“When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, and called Thee His beloved Son! And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself and hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee!”

Sung by the Boston Byzantine Choir

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The feast is called Theophany (“the revealing of God”) because at the baptism of Christ the Holy Trinity appeared clearly to mankind for the first time – the Father’s voice is heard from Heaven, the Son of God is incarnate and standing physically in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove. This feast of Holy Theophany is also sometimes referred to as “Epiphany” by English-speaking Orthodox Christians, but that name more properly refers to the Western Christian feast falling on that same day and commemorating the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus. The term “Epiphany” does, however, appear in some of the hymns in the services for this feast.

In the earliest days of the Church, there was just one Christian feast of the shining forth of God to the world in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth. This celebration included the celebration of Christ’s birth, the adoration of the Wisemen, and all of the childhood events of Christ such as his circumcision and presentation to the temple as well as his baptism by John in the Jordan. There seems to be little doubt that this feast, like Easter and Pentecost, was understood as the fulfillment of a previous Jewish festival, in this case the Feast of Lights. Christ is the Light of life, which has come into the world! Today, although we celebrate these events in several distinct feasts, they still bear witness to this truth.

Christ is in our midst!